Weekly Recap: Texas Two-Step

Weekly Recap: Texas Two-Step

This article is part of our Weekly Recap series.

There was Jordan Spieth. There was Xander Schauffele. Plus Justin Thomas and Hideki Matsuyama. And even for a while, Joaquin Niemann. It sure looked like a major leaderboard one week early.

Imagine if K.H. Lee takes down all those guys to win the PGA Championship next Sunday. It would be one of the biggest upsets in golf history. The fact that it happened in the ATT&T Byron Nelson greatly reduces the "WOW!" factor, but it still warrants at least a lowercase "wow!"

Lee won the Byron Nelson for the second straight year, bettering his score from last year by a stroke to go super-low at 26-underpar at defenseless TPC Craig Ranch. Lee shot a 9-under 63 overtake Spieth by a stroke, Schauffele and Matsuyama by two and Thomas by three, never once cracking amid all the star power around him.

It was a remarkable display of composure for a golfer who hadn't shown much of it anywhere else but Craig Ranch. 

Anytime a golfer wins a PGA Tour event, much less two, there's talent there. Lee used last year's Byron Nelson win, a runner-up at Phoenix and a T6 at the 3M Open to come close to the Tour Championship, finishing in the 31st position to just miss. But he had been plagued by inordinate number of missed cuts – double figures in each of his first three full seasons on Tour. This year, he has improved significantly, missing only four in 17 starts.

After winning

There was Jordan Spieth. There was Xander Schauffele. Plus Justin Thomas and Hideki Matsuyama. And even for a while, Joaquin Niemann. It sure looked like a major leaderboard one week early.

Imagine if K.H. Lee takes down all those guys to win the PGA Championship next Sunday. It would be one of the biggest upsets in golf history. The fact that it happened in the ATT&T Byron Nelson greatly reduces the "WOW!" factor, but it still warrants at least a lowercase "wow!"

Lee won the Byron Nelson for the second straight year, bettering his score from last year by a stroke to go super-low at 26-underpar at defenseless TPC Craig Ranch. Lee shot a 9-under 63 overtake Spieth by a stroke, Schauffele and Matsuyama by two and Thomas by three, never once cracking amid all the star power around him.

It was a remarkable display of composure for a golfer who hadn't shown much of it anywhere else but Craig Ranch. 

Anytime a golfer wins a PGA Tour event, much less two, there's talent there. Lee used last year's Byron Nelson win, a runner-up at Phoenix and a T6 at the 3M Open to come close to the Tour Championship, finishing in the 31st position to just miss. But he had been plagued by inordinate number of missed cuts – double figures in each of his first three full seasons on Tour. This year, he has improved significantly, missing only four in 17 starts.

After winning Sunday, Lee said a goal is to make the cut at the PGA this week, something he didn't do last year. In fact, he has never played the weekend in his five major appearances.

So this coming week might be a good indicator about Lee moving forward, about whether he can perform at least a little bit on a tough track, one where the winning score will be far below 26-under.

Right now, it's hard to turn to Lee in DFS or at the betting window – outside of some coming birdie-fests. But even then, he's never had a high finish at any tournaments left on the 2021-22 schedule.

That's a pretty weird predicament for someone who is now ranked 41st in the world.

MONDAY BACKSPIN

Jordan Spieth
This past week was certainly encouraging news for Spieth as he tries to complete the career grand slam at Southern Hills. He wound up 36th in the field in putting, which has plagued him all season. So that's the good news. But his worst putting day by far was Sunday, when he lost more than 1 ½ strokes to the field. This tournament was very winnable. It sure seems as if Spieth will be in the conversation at the PGA, but he will need to putt better to win.

Hideki Matsuyama
Matsuyama tied for third in his first appearance since he tied for 14th at the Masters, so it surely appears as if his neck injury is fully in the past. There are some similarities between the renovated Southern Hills and Augusta, so Matsuyama surely could have a good week.

Sebastian Munoz
A pretty good year for Munoz just got a whole lot better. He could not parlay his opening 12-under 60 into victory, but he tied for third, by far his best showing this year – he had yet to crack the top-20. He's now up to a career-best 51st in the world and if he can stay insce the top-60 he'll play in next month's U.S. Open without having to qualify.

Xander Schauffele
Schauffele had had only one top-10 all year (Phoenix) before a blistering weekend zoomed him up the leaderboard into a tie for fifth. After making the cut on the number, he shot 65-61. His game looked better than it had in a long time. Perfect timing with the PGA up next.

Justin Thomas
Once again, Thomas came close. Once again, he still didn't win. This tie for fifth is just the latest great week for Thomas and, not that he need any momentum, it should carry him nicely into Southern Hills.

Ryan Palmer
Palmer had been in a free-fall that nearly carried him outside the top-100 in the world. He tied for fifth to at least temporarily halt the slide and moved him to No. 86. But this was his first top-10 in more than a year, and at a terribly easy course, so we'll wait and see whether this leads anywhere for Palmer.

Matt Kuchar
It was another good week for Kuchar, with this tie for 12th his fifth straight made cut, four of which have been 16th or better. He'll now head to the PGA, where he could make the cut or miss it. Kuchar has inched up to 78th in the rankings after being well outside the top-100, and he has time to get into the top-60 on May 23 or June 6 to avoid U.S. Open qualifying.

Scottie Scheffler
Scheffler's worst round of the week came on Sunday. It was a 69. He tied for 15th. He is great shape heading into the PGA  at his self-proclaimed favorite course. (That doesn't seem quite fair.)

Joohyung Kim
The 19-year-old Korean tearing things up in Asia tied for 17th, his best showing in a full-points PGA tour event. He tuned up for the PGA via a sponsor invite.  This will be just his second major after missing the 2020 PGA cut as a 17-year-old.

Joaquin Niemann
Niemann was right in the mix on the front nine on Sunday. But while others were shooting 9-, 10- or even 11-under on the day, he ended up 2-over to tumble into a tie for 25th. The good news for Niemann is that this past week offers little indication what will happen next week.

Sam Burns and Will Zalatoris
Both of them missed the cut, and we didn't expect either of them to. But that in no way should impact their chances at Southern Hills, a track that each of them can do very well for completely different reasons.

Justin Leonard
Leonard missed the cut by four strokes in his first PGA tour start in five years. But the 49-year-old prepping for his Champions Tour debut presumably next month didn't finish last, or even close to it. Leonard was better than more than 20 guys. You have to think he'll be able to make an immediate dent amid the over-50 crowd.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Len Hochberg
Len Hochberg has covered golf for RotoWire since 2013. A veteran sports journalist, he was an editor and reporter at The Washington Post for many years. He was named 2020 "DFS Writer of the Year" by the FSWA and was nominated for the same award in 2019.
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